Updated: Feb 20
As part of Thistles and Coos and a parent of two teenagers, I (Connie) feel it is important to acknowledge the challenges when traveling with teenagers. As always, Thistles and Coos is committed to offering relevant information to help your travels be affordable and accessible. When making your plans, these “mini-me’s” need to be considered or they will high-jack your well thought out itinerary.
I have to quote a dear friend of mine, Latoya… when she is getting ready to give me sound advice, she prefaces it with “Real talk….”
Here is your REAL TALK about traveling with teenagers. It is a lie to say my teenagers are wonderful and fun to be around. When we travel, momzilla comes out and tries to take control of these lovely yet obstinate creatures. We are not the Facebook perfect family. We yell. We bicker. Temper tantrums happen. Our lovely creatures grunt obscenities under their breath. Many times we are not channeling Ozzy and Harriet but rather Ozzy and Sharon (Osbourne).
My mom brain in conjunction with my domineering personality, tries to take control and demands that “we will have fun if it kills me.” Mandatory Fun is what my husband calls it. I say we are family and should enjoy being together. #familyfirst
After all, there is nothing worse than a sulking teenager.
“You can learn many things from your children. How much patience you have, for instance.” ~Franklin P. Jones
Before you buy a single ticket, plan a sightseeing day, or make any hotel reservations, ask yourself: how do you plan a trip without jeopardizing your sanity?
First and foremost, if this trip is not a surprise, include your teens in the planning process. It is my experience, they will be brutally honest about what they want and don’t want to do. #toohonest
Secondly, if you don’t mind traveling in the “off-season,” plan for an extra room for them. The advantage of ‘’off-season” travel is that lodging is cheaper. This will give them their own space and you (the parents) a much needed break.
Taping the door from the outside and setting up other booby-traps is a great way to keep them from sneaking out. I am joking or am I? I also suggest trusting them; you have done a great job raising them. #trustThem
Now to the nitty-gritty… the nuts and bolts… the secret to pleasing your teenagers fighting jet lag. I’ll let you in on the secret… there isn’t a right or wrong way to please the giants. Moods and attitudes change like the wind blows.
Here are a few of my techniques that work with my two “young adults.”
Post a schedule for the day with the time of breakfast. If they miss breakfast, they will survive. Quite the revelation - I know. #mostimportantmealoftheday
Your teenager is still a teenager and requires more sleep than you. Don’t poke the badger; let them sleep. This is a great time for you to go grab a cup of coffee at the downstairs cafe and prepare for your day. With my two, I’m not sure if I will meet Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde each morning. Coffee is a must for me.
We keep our phones connected to the wifi, so any internet messaging system will work. Check your phone carrier and price the international fees. Both AT&T and Verizon offer affordable international choices.
Be flexible with them not spending every waking moment with you. Do you do this at home? My guess is no. Your home is like mine...we meet maybe twice a day in passing and have dinner together if there are not extra-curricular activities planned.
With that in mind, why do we expect our teenagers to be with us 24/7 on vacation?
If we are honest, the feeling is mutual sometimes and we not wanting to spend the entire day together sightseeing.
I have yet to meet a teenager who doesn’t have their own personal agenda.
They might not want to tour “another cathedral.” To you, “that cathedral” is amazing and completely different from the last 3 churches. Depending on their ages, give them permission and freedom to walk around the Main/High Street. Sync up your phones and map out where to meet.
Plan Time for Social Media
This is a huge part of their lives. A foreign country or vacation is not going to change that fact.
Allow time for connections with their friends around their world. With all of today’s social media interactions, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook and all the others that are popular, overlook the constant selfies, the random snapchats or Facebook posts. Be patient and understanding.
This is their adventure and exposure to other cultures, food, communities. Let it happen. You will be amazed when they show you their pictures and you see the world through their eyes. Be ready to have your mind blown.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Even with headphones on, they are listening. Be sure to communicate expectations from both parties. Let them be involved. However, don’t let them hijack your vacation. This is your trip too.
We all love our children, and we want to be sure they have a great time. We promise they will. Watch for those hidden smiles that reveal your teens’ enjoyment. Sometimes these coy humans like to disguise their pleasure from family.
Give them a daily allowance above their personal finances. Myself, I am annoyed when my kids have asked if they can buy what I consider a silly trinket. #bobblehead
This way, when they spend “their” money, it is on their terms and it is a lesson on language, currency exchange and cultural differences.
We have had a lot of laughs when we get home and look at what they bought. In fact, I have a rather odd bobble-head on my bookcase from one said trip.
“Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.” ~William Gavin
We love to travel and we love our families. Remember this and let it be your mantra as you travel together. Your teenagers will have their own stories and memories to share. We want your stories to be just as positive and memorable as theirs.
Everyone will look back on these vacations with fond memories and stories to be told over dinner.
You might learn more about yourself and your teens than you bargained.
You do you and fun will be had by all. #ILovemyTeenagers
Please share with us some of your stories because we love hearing parenting hacks. How do you keep your sanity? Do you have some tried and true techniques?
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